2023-06-02 11:46:23

2023-06-02 11:46:23

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He Has RisenHe Has Risen

 Prayer for Easter

      Dear Lord, every Easter card shows flowers blooming, bright sunshine, and smiling disciples. But it wasn’t that way, was it, Lord. It was chilly and dark when the women went to the tomb. In their scarves they carried gums and spices to undo the abuse and torture your body had suffered two days earlier. So much fear! The boulder blocking the tomb, the soldiers guarding it, the Roman soldiers patrolling and then, to add to the fear, an earthquake.

      They whispered to one another as they walked. Hopeless. Disappointed. The loss of everything they believed. Jesus wasn’t powerful as He seemed. He could heal and restore and feed and make people believe—but it all came down to this—a broken body in a borrowed tomb. Here was the hard truth; Jesus was a mortal man like every other man. Shivering in the darkness, bent over as they hurried, eager to have this business finished, to show their respect for a dear friend who had taught them so much.

      It’s ironic, Lord, isn’t it, that none of the followers coming to the burial site in small, separate groups, expected an empty tomb. Though Jesus had told them repeatedly, at least nine times, that he would rise from the dead, they didn’t believe him. In fact the only ones who heard Jesus’ message were the Jewish rulers. The high priests and Pharisees warned Pilate Jesus spoke of rising from the dead. They heard the message, though his followers didn’t. To prevent their stealing the body, Pilate posted guards.

      When they reached the tomb in separate groups, there was no sudden epiphany, no delirious shout of joy over what had taken place. No. Fear, confusion, disbelief overwhelmed the followers as they scuttled back and forth, reluctant to believe the angel’s message. Only John announced his belief as did Mary Magdalene after Jesus spoke her name. It took hours, days, weeks in some cases, before skeptic followers could believe in the living Jesus. Even those who saw Jesus in person were reluctant to believe!

      And what of us, Lord, what of our disbelief? All the Easters since that first morning and we continue to wonder, still question if it’s real. Like those followers we grope in the chilly darkness, doubting the value of life, despairing of purpose. We go to wrap the dead, not celebrate the living. The search is the same, Lord, a hunt for meaning. Strangely enough it is only an empty tomb that contains all we need to know. In that emptiness lies fullness and joy—promises kept and new life given.

      Easter isn’t a one-time event; it is a repeated search whenever we forget the promise or reject its premise. Each time we face that empty tomb, we find a living Lord who is among us, loving us, forgiving us. Dwelling with us until the end of time. Never has empty space held so much. On this Easter morning may each of us find our way to an empty tomb regardless of the pain or doubt that drives our search. With courage we look inside rediscovering the life that lies beyond. “He is risen!” So will we.

Sandra Ratliff

A Short History of St. George Island UMCA Short History of St. George Island UMC

The Story of St. George Island United Methodist Church

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20

The history of the St. George Island United Methodist Church mirrors the growth and prosperity of the lovely barrier island on which it serves as a tribute to the Lord and His bountiful gifts. From humble beginnings under a thatched arbor in 1971, summer seminary students under the direction of Reverend Leslie Shirley and later Reverend David Day, began the task of spreading God’s holy words to visitors and locals alike. Although the thatched arbor is no longer a physical reminder of the early mission days, the deep roots of fellowship still exist in the hard work and dedication of Christ’s family on St. George Island. As the island has grown, so has the mission field of island residents and visitors.

Service at “The Arbor” circa 1980

A more formal approach to Bible study and worship was needed, Reverend Don McMillan, the pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Apalachicola, worked with the Islanders to establish a home study program in November 1984. The home Bible study program shortly led to Sunday worship under the summer home of Ken and Marcie Collins on 12th Street West. Islanders pitched in with donations and hard work to make a lovely sanctuary on the bay for Sunday worship, Bible study, and special overnight guest speakers. The location was perfect for baptizing Rickey Chestnut and the memorial service for Mr. Lucky, both former Islanders. Others who committed their time, energy, and service to the Lord were Claire and Hamp Dews, Don and Barbara Hartsfield, Beau and Ester Suber, Betty and Tommy Day, Inez and Theron Tuton, Bill and Mary Tuton, Debbie and Rickey Chestnut, Carlton and Norma Ethridge, Darryl Ethridge, Muriel and R.L. Bryan, Christine McLean, and Tom and Jean Gross. The devotion of Jackie and Don McMillan to the call for worship on St. George Island will never be forgotten.

Not bad for a former fish market!

In 1988, Claire and Hamp Dews offered their octagon building and five lots on Gulf Beach Drive as a permanent home for the Methodist Church on St. George Island. Because the church was still under mission status, a non-profit corporation, The Arbors, was established to manage the growing assets. With growing pains came the need for more space. Harry and Nell Landrum graciously donated their former summer home for Sunday School and fellowship hall. The “Sand Pebbles” also served as a meeting hall, pastor’s office, guest house, and nursery.

The “Sand Pebbles” annex served a variety of important functions for SGIUMC

In 1992, the church was chartered at the Annual Conference. Shortly after that the fellowship hall was constructed and dedicated as Dews Hall and the memorial prayer garden was created in memory of Mary Gene Bailey. With the new facility in place, the “Sand Pebbles” was sold.


St. George Island UMC was chartered in 1992


In 1996, a lot was purchased for building a parsonage. A new parsonage was then built on Porter Street.

Today the church welcomes all to “Come as you are, God loves you that way.” The symbol of the lighthouse represents the mission of the church to be God’s Light for the community and beyond. Under the Pastoral leadership of Reverend Brian Brightly, and an active growing membership, the church ministries continue to grow.

….and so, the journey continues.

The Prayer Garden was created in memory of Mary Gene Bailey


Click the link to download a PowerPoint presentation detailing the history of  St George Island United Methodist Church 

Fourth of July!Fourth of July!

Fourth of July!  If ever there is a summer celebration, it is this day when patriotism, vacations, and perfect outdoor weather coincide.  I’ll do my walk early this morning to avoid crowded roads and beaches.  The air will be ripe with the scent of hamburgers and hot dogs grilling, steaks over hot coals, damp potato chips and coleslaw.  I’ll hear children squealing in the surf, throwing bits of bun to seagulls, shouting as they run up and down the beach.  Tonight there will be fireworks that split the darkness and shower sparks of living color.  So much to celebrate, so many reasons to be grateful.  We are a free country, a freedom dearly bought and purchased with the death and sacrifices of those who defended her.  In the same way, I am free from sin and the permanence of death, a freedom purchased by the blood and death of Jesus Christ.  What reason to celebrate!  Lord, I come to your Sacramental Table to remember your sacrifice and to honor the anniversary of this occasion.  Please help me never forget my reason to celebrate freedom and the price you paid.